Author Archives: politics

The Hipster Labor of Conspicuous Leisure

Thorstein Veblen’s greatest conceptual achievement was conspicuous consumption, a term that has passed into general common sense. But on my reading, his discussion of conspicuous leisure resonated more with the contemporary moment. These terms are, of course, interrelated: for Veblen, conspicuous consumption serves to indicate one’s conspicuous leisure time, and therefore the absence of any […]

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Leisure, the Sacred Gesture, and Human Dignity: Thorstein Veblen and Josef Pieper’s Understandings of Leisure

  Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class sets out very specific definitions of words that we think we understand, use on a regular basis, and for which believe we know the definitions. However, Veblen challenges these assumptions, providing us with a new set of terms such, as “conspicuous consumption” and “vicarious leisure” as […]

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Poor Plenum: Veblen and The Economics of Philosophy

  Thorstein Veblen’s genealogy of leisure, echoing a method perfected by both Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, works to continually pull back into the domain of “vulgar” conditions and impulses–a general economy of bodies, forces and classes–all things high-flown, decent, and untouchable (vi, 1994). The ambit of Veblen’s theory is such that it allows him […]

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Thorstein Veblen and the ‘Spirit’ of Capitalism

  Thorstein Veblen’s analysis of America’s capitalist society in The Theory of the Leisure Class contains one chapter toward the end of his argument on religion, or, as he articulates it, “devout observances” (191).  The substance of Veblen’s critique of religion fits well within his larger treatment of the leisure class—indeed, the forces at work […]

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Have French Jews Veered to the Right?

Translated by Robert St. Clair[1] I. An Inter-Jewish Schism Have Jews gone right-wing? Even as the question may seem simplistic or politically incorrect, it presupposes agreement concerning the meaning of “left” and “right” in our post-cold war world of ideological disorientation. The French political commentator Daniel Lindenberg, in his Le Rappel à l’ordre: Enquête sur […]

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Notes on Contributors

Tore Rye Andersen (reviewing Stephen Burn’s Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodernism) is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, Department of Contemporary Literature at Aarhus University (Denmark), and chief editor of the Danish literary journal Passage. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the work of Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace and Jonathan […]

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Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodernism

Burn, Stephen. Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodernism. London: Continuum, 2008. Jonathan Franzen’s position in the contemporary American literary landscape is a curious one. His two latest novels – The Corrections (2001) and Freedom (2010) – have been more or less universally lauded by literary critics. Freedom was thus proclaimed a “masterpiece of American […]

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Out of the Blue: September 11 & the Novel

Versluys, Kristiaan. Out of the Blue: September 11 and the Novel. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Three months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Don DeLillo wrote in an essay titled, “In the Ruins of the Future”: “The writer wants to understand what this day has done to us. Is it too soon? […]

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The Left at the Moment: An Interview with Michael Bérubé

Part I/Politics in the U.S. Today: What Time is It? Gabriel Noah Brahm: In early 2009, when The Left at War had just come out, Barack Obama was inaugurated and George W. Bush was finally out of office.  Those were heady days.  The right seemed to be on the run, as you put it in […]

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MICHAEL BERUBE RESPONDS: The Left at Bay

I want to thank Gabriel Brahm and Politics and Culture not only for putting together this remarkable series of responses to The Left at War, but for reading my book in the first place.  This is no pro forma gesture of gratitude on my part: my book has gotten a couple of engaging reviews in […]

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